Video Game / Army Men

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ArmyMen.jpg
Real combat; plastic men.

"A world exists that's quite different from our own. There, a battle rages out of control. A battle between good and evil...Green and Tan."
—Intro to Army Men: Sarge's Heroes

Army Men was a popular series of Video Games by the now defunct The 3DO Company, about a war among several factions of plastic Army Men. The game was inspired by the developers' childhood memories of playing with miniature Army Men. The series lasted from 1998 to 2003, when 3DO went bankrupt. Many fans of the series laud the initial games' more "family oriented" take on the shooter genre. After Army Men: Air Attack, the brand started suffering from lower quality sequels and spinoffs (let's not talk about a certain game starring Sarge's girlfriend). Since 3DO went under in 2003, various other companies have since tried to make games based on the Army Men brand.

More recently, though canonically unrelated to this series, The Mean Greens - Plastic Warfare was released on Steam as a multiplayer-only game giving a Lighter and Softer take on the idea of plastic men in warfare with maps ranging from a simple team deathmatch on a Tabletop RPG board, Capture the Flag in an aquarium or even a game of soccer on a foosball table.

This series has examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Bombshell, Captain Blade's love interest in Air Attack 2 has her top unbuttoned almost all the way to her navel.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Sarge gets pretty annoyed with Shrap whenever he refers to him as "dude".
  • Ace Pilot: Captain William Blade.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Near the end of Sarge's Heroes, when Plastro and a few tan soldiers have Sarge at their mercy, he is able to knock the tans (save for Plastro) off the present they are standing on by kicking a block at them. Plastro actually congratulates Sarge on his cleverness.
  • Affably Evil: General Plastro, he may be the bad guy, but at least he's honest enough to admit it.
  • Aerosol Flamethrower: An aerosol is one of the weapons you can get in the second game.
  • An Asskicking Christmas: The last two levels in Sarge's Heroes takes place in a living room with a gigantic Christmas tree in the background.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Sarge's Heroes 2 lets the player take control of Vikki in 3 missions.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The Colonel's final report before losing contact in Sector C-4 in the second game.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Sarge's Heroes' ally AI is this in spades. The generic Green Soldiers only appear in a few levels and they rarely ever manage to kill a single tan soldier even if they're in a group.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Hero Units in the RTS. They did more damage than their normal counterparts and can usually take more punishment than them, but the lack of healing meant that misusing them too much meant you were down a strong unit for the rest of a mission.
  • Bad Ass In Distress: Vikki in both of Sarge's Heroes games. She spends most of her time as a captive secretly relaying tan troop movements.
  • Bad Boss: Plastro.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Vikki does this with her outfit in all her game appearances.
  • Big Bad: General Plastro for most of the series.
    • Major Mylar for Army Men 2.
    • The alien leader in Toys in Space.
    • Colonel Blintz in the RTS game.
    • Lord Malice in Sarge's War.
  • Big Good: Colonel Grimm.
  • Black Best Friend: Riff, to Sarge. And Woodstock to Capt. Blade.
  • Bond One-Liner: Blowing up tents in one level in Army Men 3D will cause Sarge to quip "Knock knock."
  • Bottomless Magazines: Most of the games tend to give your starting weapon infinite ammo, sometimes with a drawback (the M16 in the PS1 Sarge's Heroes 2 will overheat when fired too much) and sometimes with an ammo-guzzling upgrade available (the BAR in the original two games, which trades the infinite ammo for a much higher rate of fire).
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Implied with Hoover in one cutscene:
    Col. Grimm: Do you think he can make it back to the landing pad on his own?
    Sarge: That's a negative sir; moisture is imminent.
    Hoover: Aw, geeze!
  • The Cavalry: Air cavalry, to be exact. This is the role that Capt. Blade's squad plays. He even wears an old cavalry hat.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Plastro, lampshaded all throughout.
    Sarge: Plastro! Why don't you drop that gun and face me like a man?
    Plastro: Because I'm the bad guy, that's why!
    ...
    Plastro: Burn it all, starting with [Bridgette's] blasted Blue homeland.
    Vikki: Plastro! How could you?
    Plastro: Well, somebody's not paying attention. I'm the bad guy!
  • The Chew Toy: A literal example with Plastro at the end of Sarge's Heroes.
  • Clear My Name: Blade is forced to do this, after the actions under Fake Defector, and does it by delivering much needed supplies to besieged Green forces, and helping either Sarge or Vikki take out a Tan base.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Bombshell really doesn't like it when Capt. Blade flirts with Vikki.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Shrap. He's your typical surfer dude, and as such, he tends to be pretty out there.
  • Cold Sniper: Bullseye, the Bravo Company sniper in RTS. He's even called the ice man in the game's manual.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Every faction across the series. The four most common are Green being good guys, Tan being evil, Gray being, well, gray (in some games they're allied with the Greens, in others they're against everyone), and Blue being spies, typically allied with the Tans.
  • Command & Conquer Economy: In the RTS of course.
  • Creepy Cockroach: Starting with Army Men 2, they start appearing in the real world. Due to the limited graphics of the PlayStation games, they can be downright horrifying.
  • Crosshair Aware: Due to engine limitations in Sarge's Heroes multiplayer, every player can see everyone else's aiming reticule for mortars and grenades.
  • Darker and Edgier: Sarge's War, to a large extent. Sometimes borders on parody of the gritty war hero type film.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Sarge in the Sarge's Heroes games, when he wasn't being a dutiful solider. Captain Blade meanwhile was in snark mode 24/7.
  • Death from Above: One of the power-ups invoked from time to time.
    Sarge: This is Sarge, I need an air strike, over.
  • Developers' Foresight: In the mission where Capt. Blade has to pick up a squad led by either Sarge or Vikki to blow up a radar station, picking Vikki while Bombshell is your co-pilot causes her to get really jealous, to the point she will actually ask you to pick Sarge.
  • Difficulty Spike: The last few levels of Air Attack feature a noticeable spike in difficulty in what was otherwise a fairly easy game (especially the final stage, which can be downright brutal.)
  • Dirty Coward: Hoover, the team's minesweeper, looks like he wished he called himself a conscientious objector, and will retreat in RTS if he takes even a little damage.
  • Downer Ending: Army Men: Sarge's War was pretty much this for the whole series.
  • Dumb Muscle: Thick.
  • Escort Mission: These have been around since the first game, they range from barely an escort (being able to just order your men to hold while you killed everything the way/the VIP being almost as bad ass as Sarge) to almost controller breaking frustrating.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: The Huey is treated as the generic helicopter in most of the series. Air Tactics does move you into a Black Hawk by the 5th mission and then a Cobra by the final levels. Air Attack applies this to the player's side (Tan helicopters are almost universally Cobras instead), and has the player move on to a Chinook early on, then a Super Stallion, and finally an Apache as the Infinity+1 Sword.
  • Evil Laugh: Plastro is a fan of this, even when so badly injured from being used as a literal chew toy twice that he can't stop coughing.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Colonel Blintz in the RTS after quite literally losing his mind.
  • Face Heel Revolving Door: Bridgette Blue, and all of the blue nation really. They'll work for whoever pays best, or at least who isn't trying to kill them.
  • Fake Defector: Captain Blade spends half of Air Attack 2 on the run, after being court marshaled and then breaking out of prison for his actions almost getting his wingmen killed.
    • Vikki pulls this briefly in Sarge's Heroes after getting captured as part of a Honey Pot.
  • Fat Bastard: General Plastro in the Sarge's Heroes games. Compared to the original Army Men titles, where he was built like a truck.
  • Freeze Ray: Tina Tomorrow's and the rest of the space valkyrie's weapons in Toys In Space, there's even a truck that fires freezing mortars.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The aliens in Toys In Space, Sarge can even find a laser rifle, an upgrade to the auto-rifle and Vulcan gun.
  • Follow the Leader: Portal Runner pretty much only exists because Lara Croft's popularity had not yet faded.
  • Foreshadowing: The first Sarge's Heroes has a throw away line about plastic soldiers who stay in the real world for too long becoming frozen. Sarge's Heroes 2 makes this a major plot point.
  • Gatling Good: The space Valkyrie minigunner in Toys In Space.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: One of the outtakes after beating Sarge's Heroes on hard.
    Sarge to Vikki: Alright, you go through the portal, then I'll blow it!
    [Vikki and the recording crew start laughing before Sarge realizes what he had said]
    • At one point, just before Plastro throws Sarge into a pit, he speaks French to him. Vikki asks for one last kiss, which Plastro grants, but tells her "no French from you."
  • Groin Attack: Vikki, while still tied to a chair, gives one of her captors a swift kick to the soft spot.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: Common in many of the boot camp/flight school missions across the series. The most noticeable one is in Air Tactics for the PC, because all helicopters have a mouse and keyboard.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: A downplayed example when Sarge finds powerful weaponry and delivers an almost Evil Laugh and a remark anticipating wanton destruction.
  • Honey Pot: Vikki uses this to get info on the Tan after being captured in Sarge's Heroes.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After being shown a film of green soldiers being melted by Plastro's magnifying glasses, Sarge goes on about how horrible and barbaric they are, before asking Col. Grimm if they can build some.
  • Iwo Jima Pose: Quite a few of the games have green soldiers reenacting the famous photograph.
  • Kill 'em All: Sarge's War. Every major character in the series except for Sarge himself is dead by the end of the game. However, it is implied that Lord Malice either re-built the characters and had the clones waiting in life pods at the end, or actually kidnapped them before hand and replaced them with clones purely for Sarge's benefit to make him suffer, and had the actual characters themselves locked in stasis in the life pods.
  • Kill It with Fire: Not surprisingly, the most damaging non-heavy weapon in every game is the flamethrower.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Sarge. As ever, lampshaded in the PlayStation versions' cutscenes.
    Plastro: Well, well, well, if it isn't Sergeant Hawk. How very nice of you and your jaw to join us.
  • Last-Second Word Swap:
    Sarge: But where is Plastro getting these magnificent, uh I mean, horrific weapons?
  • Mama Bear: A boss fight in Sarge's Heroes 2 was against a giant spider called the Queen who attacked Vikki for killing all the other spiders she ran into.
  • Man on Fire: Each game allows you to melt your enemies with the flamethrower.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Bridgette helps out the green forces when Plastro invades the blue nation.
  • More Dakka: One of the fastest firing units in the series is the space valkyrie minigunner in Toys In Space.
  • Meaningful Name: You can tell what Bravo company's personalities and choice of weapons just by their names.
    • The original games had the BAR as an upgrade to your default weapon, which at least doubled the firing rate.
  • Mythology Gag: Sarge's Heroes 2 features multiple BattleTanx: Global Assault-branded objects in real-world levels and cut scenes.
  • One-Hit Kill: Bayonet charges in the World War games was this for both sides.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: The zombies that start showing up in Army Men 2 and other games where Dr. Madd makes an appearance aren't flesh seeking ghouls (or plastic, as the case would be), but are more like Frankenstein's Monster in mannerism and appearance.
  • Papa Wolf: Col. Grimm, in Sarge's Heroes, was ready to capitulate after Plastro had Vikki captured and threatened to kill her. Fortunately Sarge was able to rescue her before it came to that.
  • Precision F-Strike: With its family-friendly nature, there's no harsh language anywhere in normal gameplay. Once you get to the outtakes, though...
    Grimm: (to Vikki) You're just like your mother... full'a s***.
    Sarge: Alright, you just get through that portal and I'll blow it to smithereens! ...Wherever the hell that is.
  • Promoted to Playable: Vikki in Sarge's Heroes 2.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Much of the second game's soundtrack uses many popular songs such as Ride of the Valkyries and Spring Song.
    • Army Men 3D had just about every main theme from a war movie from the 50's, 60's and 70's.
  • Pyro Maniac: Scorch, from Sarge's Heroes. In his flavor text, it say he sleeps in a box of matches.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Bravo Company in Sarge's Heroes.
  • Rule of Funny: Hard to avoid when the whole game is about miniature toys trying to kill each other.
    • Air Attack, for example, has a level where one of your bases is being torn apart... by ants. And to dispatch them, you have to drop cherry bombs on their anthills. Another mission has as its first goal winching a 12 V battery to power a toy train loaded with Green supplies; the next mission is about chasing RC bomb cars. And to unlock the final chopper, you need to gather its construction pieces, which come in gunpla-like packaging.
  • Running Gag: In the Sarge's Heroes timeline, Plastro keeps demanding one of his subordinates to bring him a sandwich.
  • Sergeant Rock: Sarge, when he's not out there acting as a One-Man Army.
  • Sequel Hook: The first Army Men game (and 3D, for that matter) ends with Sarge M.I.A. after discovering the portal that had led into the human world, opening up to where part of Army Men II takes place there.
    • Sarge's Heroes ends with Plastro, though badly injured, finding one last portal.
  • Shout-Out - Pretty much a staple of the series later in it's run, both in level names and even villains.
    • It was doing it as far back as the second game, where one two part mission was just one big shout out to Apocalypse Now.
  • Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: This appears as a super weapon in some games. Due to the fact that all units are either little plastic men or (rarely) bugs, it works fairly well.
    • Air Attack has one level where Plastro got himself a magnifying glass and uses it to wreck havoc on Green bases. Watch out for the sun beam!
  • Sliding Scale Of Silliness Vs Seriousness: The series is silly for most of the time. The World War games, on the other hand, are dead serious.
  • Spinoff: See Portal Runner.
  • Taking You with Me: Plastro briefly tries this at the end of Sarge's Heroes, being too fat and injured to run away from the lit M-80 that Sarge was using to blow up the last portal, but not wanting Sarge to make it back to the plastic world either.
  • Talking To Yourself: Jim Cummings voices just about everybody in the Sarge's Heroes timeline.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Sarge and Blade do this a lot, being that Sarge doesn't like the fact that Blade tends to hit on Vikki when they share a cut scene together.
  • The Red Baron: The Tan Baron, Baron von Beige from Air Attack 2.
  • The Starscream: Major Maylor, from Army Men 2. He waits until Plastro is in the portal, then blows it up and takes over the Tan Army from behind the scenes.
  • The Many Deaths of You: The second game, Toys In Space and World War featured various failure cut-scenes, complete with "You Lose" in army stencil font. Many of these tend to be horrific, especially the hospital scene in the second game. It should be noted that it isn't actually Sarge in these cut-scenes but just a generic soldier (excluding the grave scene).
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One of the cheats in the PC games let the player drop a massive air strike, which could be done at any time, on any enemy. Even on just one lone solider.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: The Tan Nation is often portrayed as a heavily Flanderized version of Nazi Germany.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: Vikki, in Sarge's Heroes 2. While she had her moments in the first Sarge's Heroes, she takes a much more proactive part in the fight in 2, even rescuing Sarge at one point.
  • Totally Radical: Shrap and Riff get this pretty bad.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: Played realistically (for plastic anyways) in the RTS, Colonel Blintz received a disfiguring head wound and it resulted in his Face–Heel Turn to Tan.
  • Video Game Flamethrowers Suck: Completely averted. What do you think happens to little plastic army men who're exposed to flame? The answer: awesome happens.
  • Video Game Remake: Army Men 3D on the PS1 is a remake of the first Army Men.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Plastro tends to suffer these, especially at the end of Toys In Space when Sarge stopped the alien leader.
  • War Is Hell: The World War spin-offs, which played the effects of war very realistically, even if you were playing as little green men.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: The M-60 firecrackers in Army Men II.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Sarge in the Sarge's Heroes games only ever shows nervousness around spiders. Vikki gets grossed out by them too.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Plastic and power in the RTS. The latter is oddly treated as a gathered/stored resource instead of being produced and consumed by buildings like in Command & Conquer.

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